Monday, December 30, 2013

Goals...

What a crazy, busy, amazing and exhausting Christmas season we've had. My kids are all at a wonderful age to be able to celebrate and really get into Christmas but it's left me with no free time and that has let blogging fall to the wayside.

If you are looking for a deep, meaningful post, this isn't for you. It's more of a quick catch up.

First, Jenny and Jerry both have jobs so I now have Nora full time during the week. I'd take her even if she was a monster but I'm sure glad she's not! She's absolutely sweet and loves my kids which is good because she'd feel smothered if she didn't because they love her!

Second, Dexter's diagnosis has been received by the school and so far we haven't made any changes because they were making many of the necessary accommodations for him anyway. We will continue to make sure things are going smoothly but so far, I have no worries. Getting this diagnosis has already been helpful for me though because I have a better reference point for where he's coming from. So really, not much to report here. And that makes me happy.

And lastly, as much as I hate New Year's resolutions,  I do know that it's a good time to try to start things fresh and get some good habits started. In an effort to keep everyone more in the loop and to stay more organized we've decided to have weekly family meetings. This will allow us to work on things and give the kids the chance to give their input on how things are going in life. Hopefully it helps keep our large family connected. Other goals.... I'm working with friends on getting diet and exercise under control. Again. (Why is this so hard?!!) I also think the new year will see me at the doctor as I'm concerned about my blood pressure. It's been higher than normal lately and I don't like that. Shawn is also on board with my getting healthier plan so hopefully we can work on making a series of small changes that will add up to big advantages.

I know this isn't my normal witty, snarky or insightful post but I am putting my goals out there to help keep me accountable. I'll think of something more interesting for next time. Like budgeting. Yeah... let's talk money. That's always taboo. I'll go there soon. ;)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Feeling nostalgic

Every year, around this time I start to think back about all of the Christmases of my past. I've really had some amazing ones....

One year, when I was probably eight or nine, a really expensive game came out that my sisters and I really wanted. (Ok, it was Mall Madness.... shut up.) We knew there was no way we'd be getting it and somehow, my Dad managed it and we were dumbfounded and practically in tears!

My senior year of high school will always stand out as a one of the best. My best friend Jenny and I found out about a family in need and decided to do it up big for them. The only way we'd be able to afford it was to tell our parents who both supported us and helped us make Christmas special for them, but no one else knew what we were doing. I'll never forget that. They never found out who did it and we would never have been suspected. This experience was a defining moment in my life and gave that year a particularly special feeling.

My sophomore year of college was another big one. It was the first year I wasn't with my family. I spent it with Shawn's side at his sister's house. Being away was hard but realizing that I was loved and accepted into their family, their holiday was humbling and I felt loved.

The first year we were in Omaha... Parker's first Christmas. The second year... our first year in our first house... our third year... Regan's first Christmas....

So many, amazing holiday seasons. I look back at every memory I have and not one of them is about lamenting something I didn't get. They are all about creating the magic for someone else or about loving the people I'm around. This year will be no different. I've had some amazing finds and deals so I'm doing more than I expected but I know this this year, like every other year, is about celebrating peace and generosity with the people I love. I know that this is what I'm passing down to my kids... not the things they open that day.

I could wake up Christmas morning with nothing under the tree for me and feel like I've been given the world. Being able to celebrate with my kids, my husband and my friends is more than I could ask for and I feel blessed. So Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Joyous Kwanzaa or "positive word" for "appropriate holiday celebrated at this time of year" to you!! I hope your holiday season is as blessed and wonderful as mine.

~ Please note that this was written well after the melatonin has kicked in and I'm not sleeping well due to the coughing. I'm to tired to edit and want to get this posted so it doesn't get forgotten. Please excuse (or feel free to mock) my errors.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My life is more than Aspergers... really.

Looking at my past blogs, you'd think my life is consumed by Dex, Aspergers, doctors and catering to his quirks. Really, it's a small part of my daily life. It's just the part that people need to be updated on so it's what I've been writing about. I thought I'd give you a post on what IS consuming my day to day life.

First, we had a baby! Ok, I didn't have a baby. (THANK GOD!!) But Jenny, Jerry and Nora have moved here from Boston and I couldn't be more excited! Nora just turned one and as soon as Mom and Dad get jobs, Nora will be with me while they are at work. We've put up gates, moved small toys out of reach and gotten used to having a little one under foot again. My kids are thrilled to have her (especially Regan who wants to mother her to death and Dexter who seems to connect with her and enjoy having an opportunity to be a BIG "brother" for once.) The fact that my kids will grow up with my best friend's kids means more to me than I can put into words. Their move here has meant many sacrifices, especially for Jerry and his family and I know this transition will be tough for them. I can only hope that this move will mean good things for their family and that our family can be there to help ease the stress of this change. And east coasters... whenever you come to visit, please know that my house is open! The beds are free, the food is plentiful and the bedrooms have locks so you can even have some privacy. (Probably. Mostly.)

And the other big thing on my mind... CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!! I love the holiday season in a completely ridiculous way. (I'm blaming my Dad who is like the Grinch AFTER his heart grew three sizes... and then grew a few more.) Growing up Christmas wasn't just about the day... it was all the days leading up to it. It's the preparing, the anticipation, It's finding something so perfect for someone else you can't wait to see them open it! It's giving to others who have less and knowing you've created magic for them that they wouldn't have had. Christmas makes me feel humble and loved.

In the past few years, it's taken on a whole new meaning. Finding St. Martha's Episcopal Church has made Christmas even more special. Knowing I belong to a church that welcomes everyone, that celebrates the differences we all have, a church that allows me to celebrate with all of my friends (even my non Christian friends) has brought a new peace to this holiday for me. I like that we believe that Jesus was born and died for ALL people... straight or gay, any race, man or woman (even transgendered!) But mostly, I appreciate that the Episcopal church has worked so hard and taken so many steps towards religious acceptance. (I dislike the word tolerance. Tolerance to me means that I'll deal with the fact that you exist. I suppose tolerance is better than hatred but I'd rather accept and even celebrate. Off topic... my bad.) I know that this is controversial and that many of my friends and family will disagree, but personally, I appreciate that I belong to a church that will celebrate your faith with you and not look down on you for being Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist... a church that doesn't even consider you damned for not believing. I know this is a hard pill to swallow for most of my Christian friends, but for me, it's liberating. It's freeing. I don't have to go into the holiday season worrying about who I celebrate with or how. I can say Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah and celebrate with every one of my friends, celebrating what they celebrate. Yes, the most important part of the season for me is the birth of Jesus. But if that's not what it is for you then I still want to celebrate the season of love and generosity. And I'm thankful to be a part of a church that embraces that.

And that's what the majority of my day to day life is. Although I probably won't have more posts on religion because I prefer not to argue about it as I find it's rarely productive, be prepared for a number of posts to come about our holiday celebrations! We've got some awesome things coming and I can't wait!!!

Just another day... with a diagnosis.

November 13, 2013... the day that the doctor confirmed our feelings. Dexter was diagnosed with Aspbergers. (Or level one Autism since the Aspergers diagnosis no longer exists as of last April.)

You'd think that this day would be difficult, that facing this reality would be harsh and painful. But sitting in that room with Shawn and watching Dex wander around the room carefully avoiding eye contact or getting too close to the doctor or his grad student intern, I felt nothing but relief and pride. 

Relief because now, when people think that he's being unreasonable about something that seems like no big deal (like needing the door to be re closed so he can open it or breaking down when someone is trying to hold or hug him) I can explain that his brain is wired differently and that he's honestly upset about it and not just being a brat. Relief because the school can now provide the IEP he needs to succeed more easily. Relief because I knew my son was different and the doctor confirmed it. Relief. Relief because I always said that I'd love him the same, not different in any way if he got the diagnosis. And I do. I love him fiercely and see him as a whole, unbroken child. I have no pity for him. I have no desire to NOT force him to eat foods he doesn't like because he's "special needs." I still expect him to do homework time, chores, have manners, apologize when he hurt someone's feelings... those things don't change. Yesterday he was Dexter. The day before he was. Tomorrow he will be. Nothing has changed.

And pride because I see how hard it is to be uncomfortable in all the situations that come along with life, especially life in a big family with an extroverted mother with lots of friends. He will have to work harder than most people do socially. That's a tall order for a 5 year old. One advantage he has though, is Shawn. He's introverted and understands Dex in a way that I probably never will. But in the almost 20 years I've been with Shawn, I've learned that this is not a trait that needs to be fixed, it's not a flaw. Because of Shawn, I'm better equipped to help Dex be the best HIM he can be. I don't want to "bring him out of his shell"... I just want his shell to be a happy place for him. 

I know that there will be struggles and days I feel frustrated and hopeless. I'm pretty sure that I'll have those days with all of my kids. This day was not one of those days. And I am glad.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mass murders committed by the Hermans family.

(That title got your attention, huh?)

I'm crazy, I know. And one of the things that seems to prove that to people is my preference for winter over summer. I love the dark and cozy of it. I love my fireplace and hot chocolate. And Christmas... I love the anticipation building up to the day just as much, maybe more, than the day itself. Teaching my kids the joy of giving, celebrating with our church, making magic happen when people aren't expecting it. It's an emotional and humbling time for me. It's a chance for me to step back for a minute and realize that even with the struggles I have that I'm blessed beyond measure with everyone I have in my life. I love the quiet of the falling snow at night and the excited squeals of my kids the first time they get to play in it.

But sometimes, the beautiful moment that I have planned... like this one... aww... making sweet little snowman cookies...



the one that my four beautiful, clean, well dressed, well behaved stepford children turns out like this...



No, seriously. We made these almost a year ago and I still can't look at the picture without laughing so hard I tear up. These were to be a thing of beauty... puffy white heads, glistening frosting bodies with black rope scarves and piped on red and green faces. What happened was a gnarly troop of bloody looking zombie snowmen that went to battle and lost. The frosting coating the cookie body said to gently warm and pour over the cookies so it would cover it and look like snow... it dissolved into the cookie completely. And that was the HIGH point of this project. The rest of the decorating left our snowmen looking like R rated horror film rejects that my kids refused to even eat.

I think what even further proves my crazy is that this memory is even better than the one I was planning to make. I'll never look at this picture without seeing Parker laughing so hard that he couldn't even talk or the appalled look on Dex's face when I tried to tell him he could eat it. I think, in my head, I have all these aspirations to have perfect memories for my kids. Things like this remind me that it's not about having perfect memories, but having good ones.

On that note, I'm off to see what other precious memories we can slaughter this year. Bring it on Pinterest!!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Update on yesterday's post...

Today is a new day and although I had to spend my morning at the dentist, I have a smile on my face as my kiddos fly through the front door after school... Dex leading the way, of course.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A heartbroken Mom...

Tonight I'm struggling. My heart is hurting and I'm feeling like a bad mom.

I'm a firm believer in praising in public and correcting privately. I want to build my kids up and focus on their strengths, especially to others. But tonight I'm sitting here filling out forms and picking out every single last struggle and awkward trait Dexter has. I have to read it. Acknowledge it. RATE it on a scale for how severe/how often it happens. And then I get to write up a summary of how these things negatively impact his life so I can go turn it in to strangers who will read the worst my son has to offer this world.

NEVER in my life have I focused so deeply on the struggles and oddities of my baby. I'm telling a panel of strangers about every. last. thing. How the wrong color bowl upsets him, how he needs to be the one to open the front door, how he doesn't like eye contact and often times looks through people as if they aren't there because he doesn't want to deal with them, how he gets fixated on a particular activity and moving on to the next can be hard, how he doesn't like to be touched by strangers ever and even Shawn and I don't impose it on him if he doesn't want it.

This is so hard. I love him just the way he is. I like that I know he wants the blue bowl. I don't even mind asking if he wants a hug and a kiss good night. (And most of the time he says yes and I feel like a million bucks because somehow, I'm one of the lucky ones that he's let in.) Why can't they ask me about how his personality has a magic to it too? He loves animals and can feed the peacocks at the zoo out of his hand. He appreciates little things like having his own notebook to color in and smelly colored pencils to write with. He will sit contently next to me for hours while I blog or clip coupons.

I know this is necessary. And I firmly believe this is the right choice. He needs an IEP (Individualized Learning Program) so the accommodations he needs to be successful at school can be put in place. He needs a diagnosis for this to happen. But it hurts. I don't want to be forced to look at Dexie this way, to evaluate it so thoroughly. I have as many imperfections as he does. Maybe more. I'd rather put those under a microscope for everyone to analyze.

So why am I blogging about this? Well... blogging helps me sort it all out. But if that was it, I could write it all down and delete it. Mostly, I will post this, because after all of these questions and surveys, I still love him fiercely and am so proud of him! He sees the world in a way that most don't and things that we don't think about are hard for him. People violate his space and mess up his routine on a daily basis. And he keeps going. He loves school and learning. He faces his fears. Pretty amazing.

And I post it for all the other parents out there who have kids who don't fit the mold of perfection that the world pushes for. I don't love Dex INSPITE of his struggles. I love Dex. Period. Everyone should be able to love their kids that way, without condition. I'm so blessed to have the support of my friends and family who don't look down on him or pity Shawn and I. We need no pity. We are blessed to have him.

Ok... God, give me the strenght to finish these awful questionnaires. I need this to be over.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A new (and difficult) chapter.

I've been really busy lately and blogging has kind of taken a back seat to organizing jobs, kids school stuff, company and the general business of life but I wanted to post a quick update.

Sometimes, as a parent, life is about watching your children grow and flourish. And it's easy. Sometimes, it's about seeing where your kids struggle and helping them overcome or cope. And it's not. We are finding ourselves walking an interesting line with Dex. I think he may flourish and have to cope at the same time with the same thing.

Today, we took him to the doctor to check his hearing as he's failed a few hearing tests at school. After working a bit with him we were able to find a good way for him to understand the test and what he needed to do and he passed. No hearing problems. That's good. But we are also starting the process to have him evaluated for Autism.

There is still so much to be learned about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and even more than I have to learn. However, this is something that Shawn and I have discussed for a couple of years with Dex. There are a number of factors that make us feel that at least having an evaluation is warranted but I struggle with it (I'm sure there are future blogs here)... Not because I don't want to admit that he could fall on the spectrum. Label or no label, he is who he is. Like all of my kids, I love him and I'll celebrate his strengths and be there through his struggles. If we do the evaluation and it's decided he's not, he will still have the same struggles he has now and we will still be there to work through them. And if he does we will still have thousands of strengths to take joy in.

What I struggle with is the stigma that goes with the label. I don't want the label to define who he is to other people. I don't want people to make assumptions. I don't want the label to hold him back. On the other side of this, though, I don't want not having the label to hold him back either. For example, in preschool, he was tested on his letters. That day, something pushed his buttons wrong and he couldn't get over it and was unable to cooperate and he tested knowing 4 of his letters. Even his teacher knew that assessment was ridiculously off. (He knows them all.) In preschool this isn't a big deal. As he gets older, that changes. He will fail even when he knows the material. He will be seen as being defiant. He will be disciplined in ways that will escalate problems rather than making them better. If he has the label, people will understand that taking a different approach with him can almost 100% of the time prevent any behavior problems at all. (Kindergarden has been fine and he's had no behavioral or discipline issues. I can thank having a teacher who has been sensitive to his issues for that.)

So, we feel it's time to seek out an evaluation. We have an appointment on the 15th to start the process. No matter what the outcome, he's the same person. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm not scared about what the results will give us. What if he is? Or maybe it's worse if he isn't. I don't know. But whatever this chapter holds, we're starting it. I love Dexter with everything I have and I'm truly proud to be his mother. I'm going in ready to learn and open to whatever the results my be. Here we go, Dexter. I'm ready.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Magic

Wow! I haven't had much time to post lately! So much for the idea that I'd be lazing my days away doing nothing. Yeah, ok, that was never going to happen. Get real, right?

Summer vacation may have come to a close but we're still taking advantage of the warmer weather while it's still around and on Friday we took the kids to a Storm Chasers (semi pro) baseball game. As we sat out on the berm on our blankets we watched the kids get excited about all the cheering and seeing things happen on the big screen as well as the field directly in front of us. We snacked on cotton candy and nachos. We sang Take Me Out to the Ball game during the 7th inning stretch. We stayed all the way to the end and watched the fireworks.

Funny how something as simple as a baseball game gives you the opportunity to feel the magic of being a family. That night wasn't anything extraordinary but it's a night I'll never forget. All six of us were able to take the night to enjoy being together and it really doesn't get better than that.

**Note to self... make more magic.**

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Another year, another 1000 lessons learned.

There are moments in life that change you, where you'll never go back to who you were the moment before. Becoming a parent is that. Priorities change, schedules change, sleep changes, finances, your home, your friends...

Today marks the nine year anniversary of Shawn and I becoming parents as Parker celebrates his ninth birthday. I had no idea that nine years could slip by so fast! As each year has gone by, Parker has grown more and more like Shawn. I couldn't be happier about that. He's smart, has a unique sense of humor, has a mind for technology and has a kind heart. He's also a bit of a mess in the organization department, he struggles some socially and tends to be a little obsessive when he gets interested in this. Yup, he's all his Dad!

Becoming a mother makes you a teacher. I prepped for that. What I wasn't prepared for was how much I'd learn from my kids. Truly, Parker is academically smarter than me. (Smarter than a 5th grader? Ha! I was pretty sure I wasn't smarter than my SECOND grader!) But I've also learned so many life skills... to be more patient, to let things go, to see beauty in the mundane. Parker sees the world differently and I often find that he's wiser than I give him credit for. I'm in a hurry to be productive and move on to the next task while he's contemplating the curvature of his spoon while eating breakfast. Often what I pick out as Parker wasting time in lala land ends up being him finding ways to explain complex concepts in his own way. (The spoon lead to conversations about both friction of different surfaces and how large objects have to be before you don't notice that they are round.)

I'm lucky with Parker. He's a forgiving child. Shawn is naturally a good parent to him. They have a lot in common and Shawn is less ridged than I am. I'm quicker to anger, very organized and my brain is ruled by common sense. Over the years I've learned that parenting is a mix of doing things the way I want and parenting the way the child needs to be. I have to work harder with Parker than I do the other kids even though he's one of the most easy going kids you'll ever meet. I operate differently and he pushes me in completely different directions. I have to work to humble myself enough to admit that often his way is as good as mine even if it's not how I want it done.

So, happy birthday Parker. I hope you keep teaching me, that you can always find in in yourself to forgive me for the mistakes I make and that you continue helping me learn how to be the best parent for you that I can be. I can't tell you enough how much I love you and how I'm a better person because of you. I pray that you remain kind hearted and eager to learn. You have much to offer this world and I look forward to seeing how you choose find your way.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One week assessment of my new job title.

I'm officially one week in to my housewife gig... home with no kids, and I've gotta say, the adjustment period was pretty nonexistent. Cooking is easier, cleaning is easier, shopping is easier, my patience doesn't feel so tested by the end of the day. When the twins were born, Parker was three years old. Having four kids in less than for years can really tax your sanity.

Really, I think having kids at all can tax your sanity. Sometimes, I laugh at the fact that God gave me a large family. I'm... particular... yes, we'll go with that word. (It's nicer than the more accurate word.) I like things neat, organized, QUIET and controlled. I like things to be just so. I like sleep. (Understatement.) I hate laundry. What was I thinking?

First of all, I was thinking we'd have three kids. Twins was not in my plan. Second, fertility issues that my doctor told me would only get worse as I got older pushed us not hold off. Third, I thought I'd be a stay at home mom and that I'd scrapbook all day and have a clean house. (HA!) And lastly, it was probably just blind stupidity. No, really, that sounds bad but I think I just had a vision of three kids since that's how I grew up. I'm a control freak and I'm rather attached to my visions, no matter how deluded they are.

Something about me that surprises a lot of people is that I'm not a big fan of huge families. I've become more sure of that as my kids have gotten older. It's not the work or the stress level or even the expense of it. It's the time. Each of my kids deserves one on one attention from me (and Shawn.) With four kids, that doesn't just happen. Giving each of the kids the time and attention they deserve actually requires putting it on the calendar. I don't want Jabe and Dex to get lumped together and only get time with us as a pair. I don't want Regan and Parker to not get as much time because they are so easy going that they get lost in the shuffle.

Maybe there are other parents out there who know some kind of magic scheduling trick that I don't but I just don't feel that I'd be able to give our kids the time they need if we had more. Honestly, I think sometimes we fail as it is. I don't want my kids to look back and feel like they were raised (or had to raise) their siblings. I don't want them to think that I didn't have the time to get to know who they really are. I don't want to feel that I'm stretched to thin to be the kind of parent I want to be.

It's no secret that I never wanted twins or that when we found out that we were having them that I really struggled. But like everyone says, I'd never, NEVER change it. Jabe and Dex make our family feel whole. I think, though, that this was something that my life needed. God brought me down a notch, let me know that the control freak isn't really the one with the control. It's also forced me to work even harder to be the kind of parent I want my kids to have.

When people ask how I do it with four kids I joke that being medicated gets me though. (Ok, no really, I am medicated for anxiety... that can't possibly surprise any of you.) But really, it's Shawn. He has the same commitment to being a present, active and involved parent. He sees the kids as individuals too. Each one of them wants to be loved and valued as much as an only child would want to be. As a team, we can help each other and help them. I know without him, I couldn't do it.

Don't get me wrong, I love that my kids have siblings. And I absolutely LOVE what each of my kids brings to this house. We are a family with depth and a vibrancy that we wouldn't have if you removed one of the people in it. I just pray that each of my kids grows up feeling like they are an individual in our family not just another member, another number in a large crazy family.

And this, this is why I'm LOVING this housewife gig. I now have the opportunity to do the work end of this when everyone is gone so when the kids come home I can be the present parent. My job at that moment isn't to keep the laundry going, to pack the lunches and finish the meal plan. Those things are done. I get to work on letters, play UNO, build Legos. This transition has been wonderful step in being the kind of mom I want to be. I feel so blessed to have this with my family. And I'm not going to lie... the time to watch non-kid shows is a pretty nice perk. ;)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jammie's photo... minus ALL of the airbrushing.

I had a interesting conversation this morning that really has me thinking.

Everyone knows that just because you read it on the internet, doesn't make it true. We teach our children that chatrooms are filled with people claiming to be people they aren't, that "news" sources exaggerate the truth or outright lie to get a following, that even Wikipedia should be taken with a grain of salt because it's not always accurate.

But this morning, a friend made a comment that really surprised me and I don't think she even realized the impact of it. Facebook. She said that you read about what people post, how put together and perfect their lives are. It made me think about what I post. I try to be positive... proud of how productive I am, working on cooking healthier, keeping organized, proud of my marriage. I know that I occasionally post about off days or things not going right but really, I think I fall in this category too.

Why? Partially, I don't like airing my dirty laundry in public. Partially because I try to focus on the good. But if I'm being honest, there is a part that doesn't want the world to think I'm completely overwhelmed and off my rocker. But sometimes, I am. Scrolling down and seeing all of these people posting pictures of their perfection doesn't exactly encourage me to let everyone know that Jabe and Dex pee ALL over the toilet, floor and walls when they use the bathroom. Or that I haven't gotten around to cleaning out my car in MONTHS and that there are probably handfulls of crackers living under the seats. But both of those are my reality.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not suggesting that we should start posting our marital issues on Facebook. I doubt that people want to see pictures of the mold festering in the leftovers in the back of the fridge. I think though, that when you are feeling like you are the only one just trying to keep your head afloat in the sea of insanity, it's worth taking a moment to remind yourself that everyone has their own short comings even if it doesn't seem like it.

No one is perfect. No one has it completely together. Breath in. Breath out. Change what you can and forgive yourself for your imperfections. Give your self permission to not be good at everything and rather than force yourself to be something you aren't, learn to work with what you are.

So... I'm Jammie. I'm fabulous at being organized, I love to cook so my family eats pretty well and I hope that most people in my life think that I'm honest, genuine and generous. However, I'm terrible with mornings, I don't like to exercise and I'm often short tempered. Those won't change. Ever. I'm working with what I have. I plan ahead for the mornings so everything is laid out and runs smoothly for Shawn and I sleep in. I'll never be a fitness guru and I have a BUNCH of workout buddies to keep me going when I'm not motivated. And I've learned the value of an honest apology because although I'm quick to anger, I don't have the right to use it as a crutch to not be a respectful person to others.

I think the point I'm trying to make here, is that social media allows people (even people we know and trust) to paint the picture of themselves that they want people to see. It's like a photo with a lot of airbrushing. It's them... it's just the best parts of them. Don't let that get you down about yourself. We've all got our crazies... OWN THEM!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Are you flexible?

Before I had kids, I was such a good parent. I knew how I was going to raise my kids, how my unborn children would behave and what kinds of things I'd NEVER tolerate. My kids would eat their vegetables, never throw fits in public, wouldn't go to school looking ridiculous. I mean, really... what's wrong with all these parents. And why is that lady at Target just letting her kid cry in the cart?! DO SOMETHING!

Then I had Parker and learned I couldn't force my colicky baby to sleep through the night (or the day for that matter.) After that came Regan and gone were the thoughts that I would NEVER have a frilly, dress wearing girly girl or kid constantly covered in mud. (Instead I have a beautiful, fancy little girl that goes outside AND plays in the dirt. She also has a love of wearing mismatched shoes. On purpose. To school.) And then... the twins... Jabe is a ball of energy itching to climb, touch and jump off of anything and can disappear in the time it takes you to tie a shoe. Dexter, he's is one of the only people I've ever met to rival me in stubbornness and for almost two years there was no punishment that worked. He didn't care what you took away, how long timeout was, if you put him to bed early... Nothing. Worked.

Then I learned to bend.

I couldn't control my colicky baby. (He snapped out of it one day and life completely changed.) But I learned to accept help, to take a break. I can't keep Regan from being super frilly so I'm learning to like pink and dresses and sparkles. Oh, and we're working on having outside shoes and clothes so we don't trash everything. Jabe made me understand why sometimes people have a screaming kid in their shopping cart because you won't let them out. (*Gasp* I've had fits in public!) Dexter... Dexter changed me the most. He changed the way I parent, the way I think about parenting.

With him, and with all my kids really, I learned to parent them they way they need to be parented. Sometimes that means going against everything you thought you'd ever do. When Dex is being bad and getting worked up, I get frustrated and want to exert my authority over him. I want him to understand and respect my position as his mother. But really, the best way to defuse the situation and bring him back to a place you can reason with him is to ask him if he needs a hug. I think it's reassuring for him to know we are still ok. Really?! I'm mad and want to pull my hair out and now I have to hug you?!! GAAA!!! But it works. And he calms down immediately and is willing to apologize/help clean/put his shoes on.

For a while, I felt like I was losing even though I was getting the desired behavior in the end. This isn't how I planned my parenting strategies to go. It's taken some time to understand that different things work for different kids. I can be a better parent for them when I learn to bend. I am the boss. You will follow my rules because it's my job to keep you safe and hold you accountable for your actions. But I need to be humble enough as a parent to admit that sometimes, something isn't working and I need to adjust... adjust the rule... adjust the way it's enforced... adjust the consequences.

This was all on my mind today as I made another adjustment. Technology time. We're pretty big on regulating it here. There are very specific times it's allowed. Dexter is struggling to learn his colors and shapes but Kindle/iPhone games really engage him. And Parker loves to read and he's got books on the Kindle that he only can read on the weekend... wait... really? I'm restricting Parker's reading time? Am I really going to be so stubborn as to withhold from Dex the easiest way to teach him? *sigh* Time to rethink... I need to bend.

Thank you God for helping me learn to give a little, to admit when my parenting isn't working like I intended. Thank you for the humility. And thank God I have children who muddle through this as I learn. I'm a little bit of a control freak... bending isn't easy. But I'll keep working on it because I don't need to be the best parent... I need to be the best parent for them.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Let's cross the line... Let's talk money.

My Dad calls me frugal. I think he's either being nice or in denial because I think I'm cheap. I truly hate paying full price for things. I like to shop clearance, use coupons or buy used. I'm pretty sure that I'm cheap because if we won the lottery (which I can't bring myself to spend money on) I'd still be this way. Why pay more if you can do it for less?

I think part of this comes from growing up with limited funds. Teachers aren't exactly known for their lavish incomes. I think part of it is having a large family to provide for. Shawn makes decent money but my job is to make sure that bills are paid and that each dollar goes as far as it can. And I think part of it is just part of my crazy. (As I've said many times... we all have crazies. OWN THEM!) Once, when I was little, my Dad called me a compulsive shopper when I bought some random junk that I ended up regretting. That really stuck with me. What a waste of my money! I wasn't going to make that mistake again.

So, today's burning question, as I look at my pile of coupons, while uploading my deal choices on to Cartwheel, and prepare a meeting with someone to sell some used shoes to... how much is too much? Is it worth selling a couple of pairs of shoes for $10. Is it worth an hour or two of my time to save $50 on my groceries? (Ok, I'm pretty sure for me, the answer is yes because my brain automatically started doing flips at the thought of being $60 richer today!)

I make my own laundry soaps and cleaners because it's cheaper. I don't use paper towels and we've recently given up paper plates because it's cheaper. I made my own coffee bar at home so I don't keep going to Starbucks so much... cheaper. Tonight, I had a conversation with friends about how I shelled my own pistachios for a recipe I made to save $6 on over the already shelled ones. I've even researched and repaired my own appliances because I don't want to pay someone else to do it unless I CAN'T figure it out.

So, where is the line? What won't you do to save a buck? Or join me and put your crazies out there... what DO you do to save a buck?


Sunday, August 11, 2013

The closer I'm bound in love to you, the closer I am to free.

You know what the best part of a bad day is? (Other than it being over?) That at the end of it, Shawn still loves me... still runs my bath and keeps me company. No grudges. No pointing out that I was kind of crabby at him for things he didn't get to or that I didn't appreciate enough the things he did. I know, even as the day begins, that no matter what... good, bad or ugly, it will be that way.

When we got married 12 years ago Shawn chose our song. Power of Two by the Indigo Girls. When I first considered it I wasn't completely sure it's what I wanted. It's not all "ooo I love you so much, we're getting married, everything is going to be perfect" like I had anticipated. But something about it acknowledging that things aren't always perfect and that you get through it did have a meaningful pull. Ok, in all honesty, I gave Shawn the job and I couldn't tell him do it and then tell him he did it wrong so I just bit my tongue and went with it. He did it better than I ever could have. I know that now.

The part that means the most to me is "The closer I'm bound in love to you, the closer I am to free." It really is the truth. Marriage hasn't locked me down or compromised me. I'm completely free to be exactly who I am, even at my very worst. I'm free to have different opinions and feelings and interests. The longer we are together the more free I feel. There is a safety in knowing I'll never fail alone without someone to be the stronger one. I'll never succeed without him to celebrate with me. And I'll never end a bad day wondering if he's still there for me. Good thing too. He deserves better tomorrow. :)

P.S. Two blogs in one day! That will make up for the days I skip!!

Grumble Grumble Grumble

I can feel it in my bones. Today is not my day. It's 9:00 and my head is throbbing, Jabe has colored on the wall (SERIOUSLY?!), Shawn still isn't feeling well because of allergies and I have quite a to do list today. *sigh*

I know, I've got quite the pity party going on. We've had such a great week and I really don't want today to ruin that streak. So here's my plan to turn it around. 

1. Ibuprofen and coffee. (And letting Shawn sleep in as long as possible.)
2. Don't throttle Jabe and make him clean the wall. (Oh yeah, no Kindle for him today. We are WAY too old for that kind of behavior.)
3. Hug Jabe and let it go. It's just a wall. It's just a wall. It's just a wall...
4. Church. I have no desire to get ready and go there but I really want to BE there. I need it.
5. Come home and delegate. As a family, we can get this done.

I can do this. I can turn this around. Let's go. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Five, Four, Three....

So, here we are... counting down. And the number is two. Two days left until school starts. Two days until all FOUR of my babies are in school full days.

And today, I think something is wrong with me. I know I should be mourning the last days of little kidness (I make up words, get used to it) of the twins. Or (I have a bad habit of starting sentences with conjunctions. Get used to that too.) I should be rejoicing in the freedom that I'm about to have being kid free. Instead, my brain is doing what it always does... I'm plotting out the most organized way to navigate through this transition. I've spent the last week redoing closets, rethinking how the playroom and craftroom need to work with the kids we have after school, establishing a breakfast meal plan board for Shawn since he does the mornings and prepping everyone for the new morning schedule. These things consume more of my time and brain power than, school supply purchases, clothes shopping, thinking about losing the little kid phase... how strange is that?!

I seriously get a high from redoing things to make my home more functional or to make our schedule a little easier. Some people do drugs... some people play sports... I get my thrills from organization. It's a little crazy, I know. (Own your crazies, people. Own them.) That makes this one of my favorite times of year. Even more than the beginning of a new calendar year, this is a time of new starts, new habits, cleaning out the junk and rethinking the way our lives work. 

I'm thrilled to tell you that all of the kids rooms are organized and have their closets set up for picking out their clothes weekly. (That meant a complete redo of the twins closet.) There is a plan for the playroom and craftroom redo for tomorrow to make that workable for before and after school. The coat closet is cleaned out and names are printed above hooks. 

Yup... I really love this time of year. And this year is no different. We're taking this new phase on full force! New habits. New systems to help our new schedule flow smoothly. Maybe tomorrow I'll be normal and start thinking about the chapter that is ending and the new one that is beginning. Or maybe I'll figure out some kind of homework boards to track assignments and reading minutes so we can be sure all 4 kids are getting their work done... OOOooo!!!  homework boards... hmm.... ;)

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Thoughts and Musings of a Former Stay at Home Mom

I don't know why I've never really thought to blog in the past. I love posting on Facebook, I love writing and I think this is a great way to keep everyone caught up on us. And I'll be honest, I love the idea of having a place to capture my thoughts on all the random things that I become passionate about... DIY projects, saving money, getting organized, parenting...

The latest thought swirling around my head is the change in my job title. For the last almost 9 years, I've identified myself as a stay at home mom. My job has been playgroups, doctors appointments, diapers, ABC's... but now, all four of my babies will be in school full time as Jabe and Dexter will start kindergarden this Tuesday when the school year begins.

Yes, I know your first thought... get a job. I think most people assumed I would. It really is a logical step, but I've decided that even though it is a LOGICAL step it doesn't mean it's the RIGHT step. I need to be there when the kids get home. I don't want to work nights and weekends and lose family time. I can't work summers because the kids are home. That leaves few jobs I would enjoy. We aren't rich by any means, but we live comfortably on what Shawn makes so I don't think it's worth taking a job I won't love just to fill my time. Believe it or not, the upkeep on a fairly large house, bills, shopping, volunteering at the school and with our church, and the occasional organizing job will keep me occupied. (Not to mention in November, I get to start taking care of my little Nora, Jenny and Jerry Morrissette's daughter!)

Money isn't the issue. Boredom isn't the issue. Hmm... this is familiar... it's the same thing I went through when I became a stay at home mom. Really? This is what I'm doing with my life? It felt like a demotion. I used to be productive... now I change diapers?! Years later, here I am again, another change. I used to be the primary care giver and educator of my children. Now I'm a maid, personal shopper, chef, and schedule keeper? Is this another demotion? This time I don't have that feeling. I don't need to adjust to this role. I don't really care what people think about my resume. I'm not worried about being considered lazy for not having a job.

I'm content. And I'm blessed. I have the option to not take a job I won't love. I'm able to do all the cleaning and shopping while my family is gone so our time together is more meaningful. I'm able to go to the kids classes and help others when I can. I'm able to watch Nora and be a part of her life. Really, the biggest blessing in all of this is to have the support of my husband, to make any choice I want and know that he's behind me 100%. God has provided for me financially and emotionally and for that, I am thankful.

And so this blog begins. This is the story of our family.... the crazy things I get obsessed with, the overly organized way I live... the thoughts and musings of a former stay at home mom.